Subject: RT: Teacher tells court how he helped bury Timor victims

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Teacher tells court how he helped bury Timor victims

JAKARTA, June 5 (Reuters) - A former school teacher told an Indonesian human rights court on Wednesday that he helped load the bodies of murdered priests, women and children from the East Timor township of Suai into cars and drive miles to bury them.

The court, conducting a slew of cases over the violence surrounding East Timor's vote to break from Indonesian rule in 1999, also heard how the military failed to stop militiamen killing the victims, who had sought refuge in a local church.

"There were 27 victims...we put them into three different cars: one car for the three priests, another for the 10 women and the other car for the men," former teacher Pranoto told the court.

"We then decided to take the dead to be buried outside Suai ...we dug three big graves," he added.

Pranoto was testifying at the trial of former East Timor Governor Abilio Soares who has been charged with crimes against humanity. The case has been adjourned until Thursday.

Prosecutors have accused Soares of allowing pro-Jakarta militia to go on a rampage, killing and wounding pro-independence East Timorese on at least four separate occasions between April and September 1999.

The United Nations estimates more than 1,000 people were killed before and after the vote on August 30, 1999 to break from 24 years of often brutal Indonesian rule.

Soares is one of 18 suspects facing trial in the newly established court in central Jakarta, but rights groups are sceptical those responsible for the carnage will be adequately punished.

Among their criticisms is the court's failure to put General Wiranto, Indonesia's military chief at the time, on trial.

They also believe compelling witness testimonies like those from Pranoto or from victims flown in from East Timor, will have little impact.

The court last week called its first witness from East Timor to testify about the violence.

East Timor was declared formally independent at an emotion-charged ceremony last month when U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan handed over the reins of power.

The former Portuguese territory had been under U.N. administration since late 1999.


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